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It’s BLOODY Horrendous!Endometriosis and PCOS

Updated: Mar 8

From the tender age of 13, my life became intertwined with the complexities of my womb. Seeking solace in the medical industry, as we’re taught to do, I found none. Doctors dismissed my agonising pain and heavy bleeding as normal.

“Young girls often have period problems” he said gruffly. I remember him clearly, a tallish, clean shaven looking authority figure. All of the power and arrogance of a man put in a position to rubbish the realities of womb pain.

I would faint, pretty often and they said nothing was wrong. It took numerous visits and persistent inquiries to uncover the truth. At the age of 21, the diagnosis finally arrived—Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). A cursory leaflet was handed to me, devoid of any substantial support.

“Here, take this. Make some lifestyle changes and take a paracetamol” he dismissed

I felt lost, and confused. All the leaflet told me was that I was now at a higher risk of diabetes, breast cancer and womb cancers.

“Your fertility is impacted and chances are you can’t get pregnant naturally, but you’re 21 so that doesn’t matter right now. Take the pill, make some lifestyle changes, and when you want to have kids, come back and we’ll start fertility treatment”

I left the GP that day in floods of tears. I remember having to take a week off from my part time job because of the sheer shock of being told I wouldn’t be able to have kids. I remember going to bed crying every night that week. As small as I can remember, I’ve always wanted children. Even to this day.

Driven by the desire for a remedy and determined to have babies at some point in the future, I embarked on a health journey, adopting extreme measures like a daily intake of 800 net calories and a rigorous six-day workout routine. I looked great… I had flat ish abs, toned legs but I had a raging eating disorder, god awful IBS and my mental health was completely trashed. I was NOT healthy! It’s why I now no longer compliment people when they lose weight, you never know what they’re going through. Amidst the echoes of my intense exercise sessions, despite all of the leg raisers, my lower abs just wouldn’t flatten and a new pain emerged in my lower abdomen. A pain that doctors casually attributed to PCOS, dismissing my growing concerns.

The tipping point came when my then-boyfriend, now my supportive husband, annoyed by my constant suffering (and whining), insisted on an urgent visit to the Accident & Emergency department.

“A and E, or no more complaining”, he said, assertive yet softly.

Lo and behold, there was an observable problem. An ovarian cyst- anbout the size of a golf ball and endometriosis, found in an Ovarian Laparoscopy. The operation marked the beginning of my arduous recovery. Yet, even in the aftermath of surgery, the medical community dismissed my persistent agony as potential post-operative adhesions, which is where your organs fuse together after surgery. They gave me a tonne of addictive painkillers and sent me on my merry way.

Years went by and heavy bleeding was the norm. During the time I had a job I loved at an Augmented reality studio, I started to take painting seriously. The pain stopped, but the bleeding was daily and persistent. I felt like a failure of a woman. I was headhunted, which seemed great at the time, but the new higher paying jobs just came with more stress. And then a new job in a mental health charity came with even MORE stress from bullying bosses (ironic, right?).

When the women give their blood back to the earth, men will come home from war and earth shall find peace.”- Hopi Prophecy

Years of reliance on painkillers and escalating work stress compelled me to explore alternative healing avenues. Meditation and the chanting of Ganipati mantras became companions on my journey. Venturing into herbalism, I rediscovered the spiritual practices of my ancestors, finding solace in the realms of Obeah. My art, once a simple expression, transformed into a powerful tool for my liberation.

Enter a new gynaecologist, a habitual speaker-over and proponent of an IUD solution. Immediately after having it installed, I felt pain. What followed two weeks later and beyond were months of sciatica, unexplained weight gain, and a battle for the removal of the IUD. Once you have it in, no doctor really wants you to remove it.

My Intensive studies in herbalism, and starting to study Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and Psychoneuroimmunoendicrinology unearthed revelations about the impact on the vagus nerve. The wandering nerve that starts and the brain stem and ends ant the cervix. It controls flight or fight, and in my mind, I came to believe that having a foreign object sat on that nerve would cause a number of nervous disposition problems, like anxiety, palpitations and the vertigo I was experiencing. This hasn’t been proved by science, this is just my brain putting 2 and 2 and getting 4. When it came to different painkillers or forced menstruation medicine they wanted to push me, inquisitive about potential organ damage, my questions uncovered a reluctant admission— liver protection drugs were indeed part of the prescription. What would have happened had I not asked?

I think my penultimate straw was when the gynae, who would just talk over me, after a casual “You have adenomyosis” insisted I went on a vegan diet- even though I had been vegan at that point for 5 years! I was gaining a 1lb every other day! So, for the first time in my life I decided to do THE EXACT OPPOSITE of everything the doctor tried to tell me to do. I stopped the low calorie diets, I ate fish, I removed the IUD- and the sciatica and vertigo disappeared in 3 days! I stopped having panic attacks and fainting! It was great.

“When all you know is pain you don’t know that that is not normal. It is not a woman’s lot to suffer, even if we’ve been raised that way. It is not OK to miss a part of your life because of pain and excessive bleeding. It is not OK to be bed-ridden for two-to-three days a month. It is not OK to pain during sex. It is not OK to have major bloating or nausea."(Address, 2011 Endometriosis Foundation of America Blossom Ball)”― Susan Sarandon

Rejecting the pharmaceutical path, I turned to herbs, deep breathing, and psychotherapy for pain management. I learned about Childhood trauma through Doctors Gabor Mate and Bessel Van Der Kolk who explained the links between chronic pain and unresolved childhood trauma, for which I had plenty. When I told the gynae, there was another reluctant revelation that psychiatric support had been an option all along!!! unmasking the pill-centric approach to my ailment. LIKE WHAT??? The subsequent four years witnessed my resilient management of endometriosis symptoms, including the dreaded 'IUD crash’*, through holistic practices. *(when you remove the IUD, a tonne of women report sudden weight gain, Cushing syndrome symptoms on online forums- but Lo and behold, all of their doctors are telling them it’s not related. Quelle surprise).

I cut my gynaecologist out of my life. Is it scary going it alone? Nah- no more scary than a “qualified man” giving me ALL of the wrong information, leading me down a path of my own destruction. Would I recommend it? I’m not here to recommend. I am only here to share with you my experiences.

As I navigate this ongoing journey, mindfulness of stress remains paramount. Each day brings newfound gratitude for the intimate conversations shared with my womb. I massage her in castor oil, I drink supporting herbs like raspberry leaf and nettles, I exercise in womb friendly ways like dance and slow weight lifting. I wont be a size 8 overnight but you know what’s more important? My relationship with myself and my womb.

Supporting Endometriosis UK and Vagina museum was something I felt compelled to do to give back—a dedication to sparing others the 17-year trek through the harrowing realms of womb affliction.

Emerging studies exploring links between womb issues, chronic ill health, and childhood trauma or Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) offer a profound layer to my healing narrative. My journey, reminiscent of the Shamanic path of the 'wounded healer,' resonates with the complex interplay of physical and emotional well-being. Science is still unraveling the enigma of Endometriosis, organisations like the Vagina Museum and Endometriosis UK play a pivotal role in raising awareness about womb health—an endeavour that can only contribute to the collective understanding of these intricate challenges and foster a culture of compassion and support.

My Sacred Portals Collection isn’t a remembrance of this harrowing experience, but a celebration of the strength of the Sacred Yoni Portal- Shakti, Yin Energy. It’s powerful. And when we speak from our pelvic bowl, with clarity and power we can advocate for ourselves and others. This collection is ode to THAT.

I urge you, if any part of this sounds familiar, advocate for yourself, even if you are working WITH a doctor. You are powerful. You ARE the power

With Love xxx

The Sacred Portals Collection Launches on International Women’s Day, Freyja’s Day (Friday) 8th March and 5% of profits from prints will go to Endometriosis UK and Vagina Museum respectively, to help them in continuing their great work.

All opinions on this post are my own, all theories and remedies not yet considered ‘scientific’ due to the intentional underfunding of the mind-body connection and herbal medicines are just that right now- ‘theories’. Make of that what you will.

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